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Avzhia - The Key of Throne
Review: In aesthetics this album zooms past its ancestor, but in order for the content to support this newly sleek and dynamic form, it has somewhat simplified, losing some of its asymmetry. However, the new incarnation of Avzhia, heavily influenced by later Graveland, produces more beautifully complex music that ventures into melodies whose harmony is too complete and self-serving but as a result allows longer passages that do not go offtrack -- presaging the use of the same technique by Deathspell Omega -- and so reinvigorates the romantic spirit of black metal.
This initiates a quest of forever seeking the meaning of the past and the future to unite them, and longing to be part of the struggle between emptiness and meaning that rebirths the world. In this sense, this album is very much in the graceful spirit of Romanticism that defined original black metal, including its primary influence, Emperor. Avzhia explores this spirit with songs that unfold majestically from a few hard-hitting riffs into promenades of graceful phrases which by their emphasis on interchangeable forms, emphasize pattern and through it, structure, like an echo of the Romantic ideal of understanding nature at a scientific level, but appreciating the beauty of consciousness that it enables at a scientific level.
At the opportunity cost of a slight cheesiness, in both these compactly self-reliant motifs and chanted/whispered interludes, this album enables Avzhia to build on the whirlwind spirit of their past work which unites a dark chaotic aspect with a rising beauty. The tendency to recontextualize two oppositional themes is still as present here as on the first album, but now it has been given another dimension, in that like synthpop bands and classical quartets alike, Avzhia like to bring all of the unresolved elements of their music to a fever pitch before summarizing and concluding them.
Artistically and musically, this album far surpasses its genre at this time. Its songs are not just longer but more complex, and vary the secondary evolution of verse-chorus structure, the "ring structure" in which riffs are played in a repeating pattern of serial order, so that a sense of tributaries diverging to face their own fates in smaller motif rings and returning gives the music a topographical perspective. This is insightful, perceptive music and should be treated with respect as it is wholly inaccessible to most of the black metal fanbase at this time.